US: Amazon to launch smart carts that lets shoppers skip checkout lines

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Smart shopping carts will be a new addition to Amazon grocery stores at select locations in 2020, reports US television network CNBC.

Borrowing from Amazon's cashierless Go stores, new "Dash Carts" allow customers to avoid checkout lines and leave the store immediately. The carts track grocery items in real-time when shoppers add things to them. It then uses technology to automatically charge the shopper when the item is removed from the cart.

Meaning that the checkout process is streamlined, checkout lines will be entirely obsolete in stores with Dash Carts. Amazon announced the roll-out of its carts last week, which are scheduled to be incorporated into the company's new Los Angeles grocery store later this year.

Following the retailer's introduction of Amazon Go stores - that make shopping cashierless with an automatic payment device - this move comes as an advancement in its steps to making a shopping experience that is technologically streamlined and convenient for shoppers.

As with Amazon Go, shoppers have to own a smartphone and have an Amazon account to use Dash Cart. Through the Amazon app, customers use a QR code to scan an Alexa shopping list. The way the Dash Carts operate is through the use of a camera that identifies items as they are placed in bags within the cart.

When it comes to fresh fruits and veggies, shoppers must type in the item's code and the quantity of the produce they're purchasing.

Along with the general process, the carts have a coupon scanner. At the end of the shopping trip, the Dash Cart shows the shopper their total, displayed on the front of the cart.

This hasn't come without complications. Amazon's Vice President of physical retail and technology Dilip Kumar told the publication that Amazon tries to "hide that complexity away from customers so you don't have to learn any new shopping behaviors,".

Implemented in the California grocery store, that is designed more like a traditional supermarket than most of Amazon's smaller convenience store-type facilities, it has been a challenge for the cart's technology to account for the "huge catalog of items" available to shoppers. For now, Dash Carts are designed for small to medium-sized shopping trips - for shoppers looking for about two bags full of grocery items.

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